INA – The Rend Lake College Foundation hosted an event to celebrate some of its finest contributors and their most recent funding achievement in the newly-renovated RLC Theater.
A theatre gala was held Thursday night to pay tribute to donors and to unveil the theatre in its improved form.
The “Friends of the Theatre” are individuals, families and businesses in the area who support a campaign launched by the RLC Foundation Board of Directors, along with CEO Pat Kern. Those who responded with a $1,000 gift or more were invited to the gala, and will get exclusive opportunities to purchase tickets for future RLC Theatre productions. They received name recognition on a “Friends of the Theatre” plaque hanging beside the theater’s entrances.
The “Friends of the Theatre” include John D. and Mary Ellen Aiken, Cindy Caldwell, Millie Caldwell, Kyle and Deidre Childers, Dr. Evelyn Claxton, Mr. and Mrs. Bryan Dick, the Franklin County Arts Association, Doris J. Heaton, RLC President Mark Kern and Pat Kern, Cindy Leeck, Henry (Buster) Leeck, Marilyn Scarborough Parks, Neah Rainwater, Dr. Warren and Phyllis Petty, the Pyramid Players, Jody Rubenacker and family, Mr. Bob and Dr. Sue Santoro Tomlin, US Bank, Walgreen’s Distribution Center, James and Lila Waugh, and Tracey Webb.
The gala was held before The Great Collaborators music concert took the stage. During the gala, former music instructors Courtney Cox and Larry Phifer entertained with music from the Pyramid Players. Phifer was on bass and Cox played piano. RLC Culinary Arts students prepared and served a number of hors d’oeuvres for the event.
The theatre is one of the only, if not the only, facilities on campus to go unrenovated in the college’s rich, 40-year history, President Kern told those at the gala. He said the facility opened its doors in 1975 and has since not received renovation aside from some sound and lighting upgrades years ago.
In 2007, the RLC Foundation and its Board of Directors decided to change that. Thus, the “Friends of the Theatre” campaign was born. Pat Kern, along with Board of Directors member Mary Ellen Aiken’s hard work and passion for theatre, set out to raise $50,000 – one-quarter of the $200,000 needed to make the renovation a reality. During the gala, Aiken and retired RLC Liberal Arts Division Chair Evelyn Claxton received special recognition from Pat Kern for their support of the theatre. Claxton, a resident of Benton and widow of Celebrity Boats founder Fred Claxton, was the lead contributor for the campaign.
By August, the “Friends of the Theatre” campaign had generated more than $63,000.
But, they didn’t stop there.
With preliminary designs not accounting for much-needed lighting and sound upgrades, the theatre’s “Friends” pitched in more support. Total campaign contributions as of mid-March were $72,700.
The renovation was underway by November and the rest, as they say, is history.
It has improved the theater with brand-new, wider seats; new wall-to-wall carpeting; a center aisle; acoustic wall treatments; a new, deluxe stage curtain and valance; and more handicapped-accessible seating. A fully-operational stage thrust is the final step in the overall $282,000 renovation and is expected to be completed in a month.
For additional information about this release, one may contact RLC Foundation Assistant Director Claire Creedmore at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1214.